The World’s Largest Commercial Butterfly Farm: Just Another Reason Love Hickatee Cottages & Southern Belize
Just a few weeks ago, I traveled down to Punta Gorda in Southern Belize for the fabulous Belize Chocolate Festival. I wanted to shorten my “Southern Belize bucket list” and hoped that my first visit enchantment with the Toledo district wouldn’t fade. Neither of those things happened. While I was able to tick off 2 items from the list: The Chocolate Festival and the Mayan site of Lubaantun, I added about 8 more places & trips.
AND the Chocolate Festival (especially the Saturday block party) was so charming and beautiful and well…chocolatey and my stay at Hickatee Cottages so comfy, relaxing and beautiful, that I’m already returning my return trip to the far south of Belize. I LOVE PUNTA GORDA! Clearly, enchantment has no faded.
Here is a quick look at Hickatee. (You can read much more in the posts below.) Just a mile or so outside of Punta Gorda town but in the full grown jungle. Expect Howler Monkeys to wake you up with barking that is almost surreal.
My pretty room.
And just across the paths, past the pool is the main house. Where you can feast on fresh baked muffins and bread (fresh bread!) each morning, hit the small bar area before dinner and chat with the other guests or just lounge and browse the owners’ extensive Belize library.
The pathway to the honeymoon suite and then on to the jungle trail.
So you are seeing a bit of why Hickatee is such a gorgeous way to experience this area but there are more perks. Amazing perks. Deal making perks. Not just the morning coffee delivery. (My idea of nirvana.)
First – each Wednesday evening, Ray McDonald from the Warasa Drum School comes to teach Garifuna drumming to the guests and it is super fun and addicting. (For some of our lessons on my November trip.)
So that’s Wednesday night. But then, if you are at HIckatee on Friday afternoon, you have the chance to visit the largest commercial butterfly farm in the world! Ian, the owner of Hickatee with his wife Kate, also happens to manage a butterfly farm, the employees about 20 full time workers who tend to all aspects of butterfly farming (I’ll get to some of that in the post) and ships out about 5000 butterflies a week.
Were you recently in a natural history museum in Moscow where you saw a live butterfly display? You probably saw some these very butterflies.
Friday, late morning, I headed out to the farm. It’s not open to the public and Friday’s are the day that the shipment is made. We went to pick up THE BOX. Thousands of green chrysalis so carefully packed. Tropic Air whisks then to Cancun and then they are off to the UK.
The farm is on the grounds of what used to be a lodge in Colombia village (home of Lubaantun & the very cool Belize EarthShip home). It’s on a beautiful hilltop surrounded by fruit trees and flowers and lush greenery – much that is grown to feed the butterflies.
There is a short hike down a steep path and then a small village of small wooden, screened enclosures. To the butterflies. The “owl eye” on the outside…
And to the next enclosure. We went in. Shutting the doors QUICKLY!
You are warned not to wear bug spray on the trip. And you didn’t need it for pest. But these little guys are attracted sweat.
This old lady came by to say hello…
The very knowledgeable manager gave me a tour. There were quiet workers plucking eggs, gluing chrysalids on sticks…
Feeding hungry caterpillars that were feasting on their specific leaves of choice in these boxes.
Here are some of the older ones – WELL longer than my middle finger. With fur and antlers and…ick. Step on one of these things and you probably need to get a new pair of shoes.
And then an enclosure of pretty blue morphos. Plain on the outside and beautifully blue, unnaturally blue in the middle.
Humans were not the only ones silently working. I rudely snapped a pic of this little lady in birth…
We all are very familiar with how amazing the life cycle of a butterfly is…but how VERY cool to see all the stages of so many…all in one place. And to stand in a room of butterflies? You feel just a bit like Sleeping Beauty. It’s VERY cool.
What an amazing treat. Another surprise in Punta Gorda. Who knew that commerical butterfly farms even existed? And meeting the manager, who has done this work for almost 20 years, labor intensive and exacting, was a very cool thing. Riding his bike up from the village with the 15+ other workers, hiking down the hill and (to way over simplify) spending his life with the butterflies in this beautiful place…
Amazing. It got me thinking extremely deep thoughts…it’s just that I’ve forgotten them already.
For all the information on Hickatee Cottages, check out the website. And for more on the Punta Gorda area, check out some of my location guide. It’s like no place you’ve visited before.